Spanning an amazing 25 seasons — airing between 1972 and 1997 — these special programs tackled a wide range of topics, offering both entertainment and valuable life lessons that left a lasting impression on a generation (even if some kids wouldn’t readily admit they watched these made-for-TV movies).
From heartwarming stories to discussions of tricky subjects, these episodes offered a passive way for kids to learn and gain some perspective while facing the challenges of the time. The anthology mini-movies were so popular, even CBS jumped on the bandwagon, and came out with their own “Schoolbreak Special” series.
The specials also were early showcases for many actors and actresses who would go on to greater success — people like Ben Affleck, Rob Lowe, Jodie Foster, Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Freddie Prinze Jr, Jessica Alba, River Phoenix, Kyra Sedgwick, Kristy McNichol, Kirk Cameron, Yeardley Smith and Melora Hardin, among others.
For your reminiscing pleasure, we’ve listed every one of the ABC Afterschool Special episodes (all 154!) — as well as all the promotional materials and full-length videos we could find. (If you want to watch more, you can get some episodes on DVD here.)
Join us as we revisit captivating tales and unforgettable characters that defined so many of the childhoods of GenXers and beyond.
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE: All of the old ABC Afterschool Special episodes, in alphabetical order
Hey latchkey kids! Revisit these ABC Afterschool Special episodes that shaped our childhood (from the 1970s through the 1990s). Click on any title for more info, or just scroll down to see them all, or click here to go straight to the year-by-year listing.
All That Glitters (1990)
The Almost Royal Family (1984)
The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon (1976)
Amy & the Angel (1982)
Andrea’s Story: A Hitchhiking Tragedy (1983)
Are You My Mother? (1986)
Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (1984)
Between Two Loves (1982)
Blind Sunday (1976)
Bonnie Raitt Has Something to Talk About (1995)
Boys Will Be Boys (1994)
The Bridge of Adam Rush (1974)
But It’s Not My Fault (1983)
Can a Guy Say No? (1986)
The Celebrity and the Arcade Kid (1983)
The Cheats (1989)
Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale (1985)
Class Act: A Teacher’s Story (1987)
The Color of Friendship (1981)
The Crazy Comedy Concert (1974)
Daddy Can’t Read (1988)
Daddy’s Girl (1996)
Daddy, I’m Their Mama Now (1982)
Date Rape (1988)
The Day My Kid Went Punk (1987)
Dear Lovey Hart: I Am Desperate (1976)
A Desperate Exit (1986)
Dinky Hocker (1978)
Divorced Kids’ Blues (1987)
Don’t Touch (1985)
Educating Mom (1996)
The Hand Me Down Kid (1983)
Have You Ever Been Ashamed of Your Parents? (1983)
The Heartbreak Winner (1980)
The Hero Who Couldn’t Read (1984)
Hewitt’s Just Different (1977)
High School Narc (1985)
A Home Run for Love (1978)
The Horrible Honchos (1977)
I Hate the Way I Look (1994)
I Want to Go Home (1985)
In the Shadow of Love: A Teen AIDS Story (1991)
The Incredible, Indelible, Magical Physical, Mystery Trip (1973)
It Isn’t Easy Being a Teenage Millionaire (1978)
It Must Be Love ‘Cause I Feel So Dumb (1975)
It’s a Mile from Here to Glory (1978)
It’s No Crush, I’m in Love (1983)
It’s Only Rock & Roll (1991)
Magical Make-Over (1994)
The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red’s Head (1974)
Make-Believe Marriage (1979)
A Matter of Time (1981)
Me and Dad’s New Wife (1976)
Me and My Hormones (1996)
Michel’s Mixed-Up Musical Bird (1978)
Mighty Moose and the Quarterback Kid (1976)
Miracle at Trapper Creek (1997)
Mom and Dad Can’t Hear Me (1978)
Mom’s on Strike (1984)
Montana Crossroads (1993)
A Movie Star’s Daughter (1979)
My Dad Can’t Be Crazy… Can He? (1989)
My Dad Lives in a Downtown Hotel (1973)
My Mom’s Having a Baby (1977)
My Mother Was Never a Kid (1981)
P.J. and the President’s Son (1976)
The Perfect Date (1990)
The Pinballs (1977)
Please Don’t Hit Me, Mom (1983)
Positive: A Journey Into AIDS (1995)
Private Affairs (1989)
Pssst! Hammerman’s After You! (1974)
A Question About Sex (1990)
Santiago’s America (1975)
Santiago’s Ark (1972)
Sara’s Summer of the Swans (1974)
Schoolboy Father (1980)
Seasonal Differences (1987)
The Secret Life of T.K. Dearing (1975)
Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid (1979)
Shades of a Single Protein (1993)
The Shaman’s Last Raid (1975)
She Drinks a Little (1981)
The Skating Rink (1975)
Sometimes I Don’t Love My Mother (1982)
A Special Gift (1979)
Stood Up! (1990)
Summer Stories: The Mall – Part 1 – First Impressions (1992)
Summer Stories: The Mall – Part 2 – Second Chances (1992)
Summer Stories: The Mall – Part 3 – Temptations (1992)
Summer Switch (1984)
Supermom’s Daughter (1987)
Surviving a Break-up (1992)
Taking a Stand (1989)
Tattle: When to Tell on a Friend (1988)
Teen Father (1986)
Teenage Confidential (1996)
The Terrible Secret (1979)
Terrible Things My Mother Told Me (1988)
Testing Dirty (1990)
Through Thick & Thin (1996)
Too Soon for Jeff (1996)
The Toothpaste Millionaire (1974)
Torn Between Two Fathers (1989)
Tough Girl (1981)
A Town’s Revenge (1989)
The Unforgivable Secret (1982)
Wanted: The Perfect Guy (1986)
The Wave (1983)
What Are Friends For? (1980)
Where Do Teenagers Come From? (1980)
Which Mother Is Mine? (1979)
William: The Life, Works and Times of William Shakespeare (1973)
Winning and Losing: Diary of a Campaign (1974)
The Woman Who Willed a Miracle (1983)
Browse all vintage episodes by year — start here!
The ultimate guide to ABC Afterschool Special episodes from the 1970s
The Last of the Curlews (October 1972)
The last male Eskimo curlew, his search for a mate, and the problems they face as they make the treacherous migration from the high arctic tundra to Argentina and back to the nesting grounds.
Follow the North Star (November 1972)
A young boy helps his friend escape slavery through the underground railway. (For more on this topic, see About Harriet Tubman: Rebel, slave activist, Union spy)
Santiago’s Ark (December 1972)
The story of a young Puerto Rican boy whose imagination and ambition unite his Spanish Harlem neighborhood.
William: The Life, Works and Times of William Shakespeare (January 1973)
A special introducing William Shakespeare to young people through sketches, readings and music.
The Incredible, Indelible, Magical Physical, Mystery Trip (February 1973)
The Incredible, Indelible, Magical Physical, Mystery Trip is an animated special about two youngsters who are miniaturized and travel through their Uncle’s body, to understand more about his health. (Find out more about the episode here!)
Red Buttons starring in Alexander (April 1973)
Red Buttons in the role of “Alexander,” an aging world traveler returned home, in a montage depicting various adventures he plays out for three children. Clockwise from left, Buttons enacts “Alexander” in a rocking chair at his ancestral home, Wildwood Manor; as a clown, as a dancing banjo player, and a concert pianist.
Rookie of the Year (October 1973)
Highly recommended show for the youngsters. It tells the story of an 11-year-old girl who wins a place on the school’s all-boys baseball team. The girl, beautifully played by Jodie Foster, faces a controversy involving teammates and parents.
My Dad Lives in a Downtown Hotel (November 1973)
“Listen Joey, Dad’s trying to tell you that your mom and I will love you just the same… even after the divorce.” Starring Beau Bridges & Ike Eisenmann
Promo spot for the episode:
“It was fun getting together with you!” (1973 post-season promo)
Pssst! Hammerman’s After You! (January 1974)
Christian Juttner (left) in the role of Mouse Fawley assists a neighbor partially crippled by a stroke, Mr Casino, played by Tito Vandis, in the “ABC Afterschool Specials” presentation, “Pssst! Hammerman’s After You!,” airing Wednesday, Jan. 16 (3: 30-4: 30 p.m.) on the ABC Television Network. The story tells how Mouse, an 11-year-old boy, learns to deal with the threat of violence from a bully, Marv Hammerman.
Cyrano (March 1974)
Long-nosed Cyrano de Begerac helps an army officer woo Roxanne, the woman he loves in this animated version of Edmond Rostand’s play.
Vintage Afterschool Special – The Runaways (March 1974)
A small-town teenage girl joins forces with a younger, street-wise boy. A story about their struggle for survival in an often frightening big city.
The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red’s Head (May 1974)
In this super new version of Little Red Riding Hood, there’s a delightful difference. Kids will go on a fantastic journey “inside” her head.
The Crazy Comedy Concert (June 1974)
A very funny special program for kids who think they don’t like classical music; featuring Tim Conway and Ruth Buzzi.
Promo spot for the episode:
Sara’s Summer of the Swans (October 1974)
A teenage girl is forced to confront the problems involving her mentally challenged brother.
Sara Godfrey (Heather Totten), a sensitive adolescent girl who is having a dreary summer, finds support in the friendship of a schoolmate, Joe Melby (Christopher Knight), in “Sara’s Summer of the Swans,” a presentation of the ABC Afterschool Specials.
The Bridge of Adam Rush (October 1974)
It’s 1801 and when young Adam Rush begins a new life with a new father… he finds that the bridge they build together becomes a bridge of respect and understanding between them.
Winning and Losing: Diary of a Campaign (November 1974)
Two teenage girls get involved in the democratic process by participating on opposite sides of this year’s closely contested South Dakota senatorial campaign. You’ll even see the final moments of victory and defeat as the girls and their candidates receive tonight’s election results in the two campaign headquarters!
The Toothpaste Millionaire (November 1974)
The delightful story of three 12-year-olds and their ingenious attempts to fight inflation… by manufacturing and selling their own brand of toothpaste… at 3 cents a tube!
The Skating Rink (February 1975)
The story of a teenage boy who rises above his handicap of stuttering by developing his skills as an accomplished skater. Stewart Petersen stars.
Santiago’s America (February 1975)
It’s a battered old taxicab that doesn’t even have an engine. But it’s going to give Santiago the ride of his life.
Jodie Foster in The Secret Life of T.K. Dearing (April 1975)
There’s a lot going on that T.K. hopes her parents don’t discover… She’s been going to secret club meetings, not the library. She’s joined her grandfather’s crazy adventures, instead of keeping an eye on him. And now she and her friends must stand up to the sheriff. Starring Jodie Foster & Eduard Franz — An ABC Afterschool Special.
It Must Be Love Cause I Feel So Dumb (October 1975)
Have you ever been someone who’s in love with someone who’s in love with someone else? Eric is. And this is his story.
Fawn Story (October 1975)
A deer changes everything for Jenna and Toby. And when “Lady” comes into your life, you’ll never forget her.
The Shaman’s Last Raid (November 1975)
The old man of magic teaches his grandchildren the secrets of Earth and Sky… and what it really means to be an Apache Indian.
The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon (February 1976)
Duffy Moon has a special way with plants and animals like his bird, “Niagara Joe.”Does it come from his magic book… or from some power within himself? Starring Ike Eisenmann, Lance Kerwin, Jim Backus and Jerry Van Dyke.
Me and Dad’s New Wife with a young Kristy McNicol (February 1976)
A girl tries to teach her new stepmother a lesson for “stealing” her father’s love… but learns one instead.
Blind Sunday (April 1976)
A shy boy who can see takes a daring step into the dark world of an exuberant blind girl… a step that brings them closer together.
Dear Lovey Hart: I am Desperate (May 1976)
A teenage girl reluctantly takes on an advice column for her school newspaper.
Francesca, Baby (October 1976)
Mom has a drinking problem. Dad’s away. Kid sister needs help. It’s up to a determined fifteen-year-old to pull the family together.
P.J. and the President’s Son (November 1976)
Two boys, who look exactly alike, secretly decide to trade lives for a few days. One is a delivery boy. The other is the son of the President of the United States. This unusual switch starts them off on the adventure of their lives!
Full episode, Part 1:
Full episode, Part 2:
Mighty Moose and the Quarterback Kid (December 1976)
A father, in the grandstand, has visions of football glory. His son, down on the field, is desperately trying to make them come true. With help from real football-pro Alex “Mighty Moose” Novak (played by Alex Karras), the Quarterback makes a spectacular end run around Dad and scores some points for himself.
My Mom’s Having a Baby (February 1977)
You’ll want to watch this with your kids, because it’s a very special story for every family. His mother’s pregnancy has 10-year-old Petey a bit puzzled and concerned. But real-life pediatrician Dr. Lendon Smith teaches Petey about the beginning of life. You and your family will share Petey’s learning experience through an actual video-taped birth.
The Horrible Honchos (March 1977)
Moving into a new neighborhood is always difficult. For Hollis, it’s twice as hard, because his not-so-welcoming committee is The Horrible Honchos!
Very Good Friends (April 1977)
11-year-old Joss and her older sister, Kate, are more than just sisters. They’re very good friends. Then tragedy strikes and Kate is left alone to face a most cruel fact of life… death.
Hewitt’s Just Different (October 1977)
Because he’s [disabled], Hewitt is neglected by the “normal” neighborhood kids. But he overcomes their wariness through his own spirit and determination. And gets the chance to prove that he’s a person, too.
The Pinballs, starring Kristy McNichol (October 1977)
Can three foster children ever find the family, love, and happiness they need? Or will they always be “pinballs” — tossed here, there, everywhere, always under someone else’s care?
Michel’s Mixed-Up Musical Bird (February 1978)
How can a pesky little bird — who can’t even fly — teach anybody about anything?
Famed composer Michel LeGrand and his young daughter learn about music and life from “One Note” — in this funny and touching musical story.
It Isn’t Easy Being a Teenage Millionaire (March 1978)
Fourteen-year-old Lissa dreams of being rich. But when her name is drawn at the One Million Dollar Lottery, she learns that a dream-come-true can turn into a nightmare.
The Rag Tag Champs (March 1978)
Larry B. Scott (foreground) is a hustling ballplayer on a raggedy team (background) that specializes in the unexpected in ‘The Rag Tag Champs,’ an ABC Afterschool Specials presentation at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Mom and Dad Can’t Hear Me, with Rosanna Arquette (April 1978)
It’s not unusual for a teenage girl to feel embarrassed by her parents’ ideas and rules. But Charlotte’s feelings are a bit more involved. You see, her parents are deaf.
It’s a Mile from Here to Glory (May 1978)
Steve Shaw (forefront) must learn some important lessons in courage, friendship, humility and teamwork on his road to recovery from a traffic accident that may end his promising career as a high school mile runner on the ABC Afterschool Specials presentation “It’s a Mile From Here to Glory.” (This Afterschool Special episode starred a young Anthony Kiedis, who later became the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.)
ABC Afterschool Special: One of a Kind (September 1978)
The make-believe slaps and insults of a puppet show seem painfully real to a girl who is the victim of child abuse. Stars Stephanie Brown and Diane Baker.
Puppeteer Ken Hill uses his Punch-and-Judy show to make Diane Baker, center) aware of the hurt she is inflicting on her daughter, Stephanie Brown, in ‘One of a Kind,’ a drama of family misunderstanding which will be the season’s premiere of the ABC Afterschool Specials series. This drama will air Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. on most ABC stations.
A Home Run for Love (October 1978)
Sammy is a lonely boy, too shy to make friends. Davy is an old man, too young in spirit to feel his age. Although there are fifty years between them, they have one thing in common — a passion for baseball.
Gaucho: An ABC Afterschool Special (October 1978)
Excerpted from the Charlotte Observer (North Carolina) October 24, 1978
Thursday, the Afterschool Special presents “Gaucho,” the story of a Puerto Rican boy determined to grant his mother a very special wish. Dynamite recently got a chance to see a preview of “Gaucho” and we think it’s a program well worth watching.
Panchito Gomez stars in the title role as Gaucho. Gaucho and his mother live in New York City. They are a poor family. To grant his mother what he thinks she wants more than anything will cost a lot of money. But each day he strives toward giving her that one special gift — to return to her homeland, Puerto Rico.
This isn’t easy for Gaucho. Gaucho is just a kid! He’s full of determination, though, which leads him to getting an after school job as an errand boy.
But the job doesn’t pay very well, and Gaucho soon realizes that it will take him a very long time to save enough of his earnings to accomplish his goal. So he looks for other means of getting money and instead finds — trouble! Without realizing it, he becomes involved in a counterfeiting operation!
What will happen to Gaucho? Will anyone find out about his illegal activities? Will he be out in jail? And… what about his mother’s wish? You can be sure all these questions and more will be answered when you tune in.
Dinky Hocker (December 1978)
Her mother gives her all the sweets she wants. She has no time to give her anything else. Dinky (Susan) Hocker’s mother spends most of her time working as a drug counselor with other people’s kids. How can she make her mother see that’s she’s hooked, too… on food? Stars June Lockhart (Lost In Space) and Wendie Jo Sperber (Bosom Buddies, Back to the Future)
Make-Believe Marriage (February 1979)
Several high school students learn a few things they didn’t know about themselves when they take part in a mock wedding ceremony as a class project.
Full episode video:
The Terrible Secret (March 1979)
A teenage driver takes a young boy she hit with her van to the hospital, then panics and runs away. Stars Linda Adams and Michael Biehn.
Episode promo spot:
Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid (May 1979)
Calvin is the richest kid in town. But no matter what he does, he can’t make friends. Until a fairy godmother magically appears to grant him seven wishes… that could unlock the secret of friendship. Butterfly McQueen and Robbie Rist star. (This episode also features a young Cynthia Nixon, later known for Sex in the City!)
Which Mother Is Mine? (September 1979)
A teenage girl is torn between her biological mother and the woman who lovingly raised her for the past six years.
A Movie Star’s Daughter (October 1979)
Dena’s the new kid in school… who suddenly becomes super-popular. What happens when she discovers that her new friends are accepting her because her father’s a movie star? Trini Alvarado and Frank Converse star.
A Special Gift (October 1979)
In Wednesday’s ABC Afterschool Special, 14-year-old Stephen Austin, center, plays the role of a boy with a talent for both ballet and basketball who must choose between his own love for the dance and the pressure of his father and friends. The story of self-discovery is titled ‘A Special Gift.’
The Late Great Me: Story of a Teenage Alcoholic (November 1979)
Maia Danziger stars as a high school girl who takes the first step toward saving her own life when she stands up before a group of understanding people — all of whom have stood where she does — and says “My name is Geri. I am an alcoholic.”
“The Late Great Me: Story of a Teenage Alcoholic,” a special 90-minute drama on the ABC Television Network’s “ABC Afterschool Specials” series, airs Wednesday, November 14 (4.00-5:30 p.m., EST and 3:30-5:00 PST).
The ultimate guide to ABC Afterschool Special episodes from the 1980s
Heartbreak Winner (February 1980)
An account of a champion figure skater whose Olympic dream is cut short by a crippling illness.
Where Do Teenagers Come From? (March 1980)
The sudden changes in her friends and in herself have 12-year-old Kelly confused and unhappy about becoming a teenager. But real-life pediatrician, Dr. Lendon Smith, helps her understand the uncomfortable topsy-turvy world of the teenager. If you’re a teenager, or have teenagers in your family, you’ll want to watch this very special show.
What Are Friends For? (March 1980)
An angry child of divorce discovers that vows of friendship can be as fragile as vows of marriage.
A Family of Strangers (September 1980)
She’s got one kid. He’s got two. They fell in love and got married. Their three kids are fighting like cats and dogs; they know they’re stuck with each other, but will they even learn to stick together.
Schoolboy Father – with Rob Lowe and Dana Plato (October 1980)
Charles is only sixteen and he just became a father. If he doesn’t keep his son, some stranger will adopt him. He’s still going to school, he works part-time… and he needs to do some growing up, himself. Even with his mother’s help, can Charles handle the responsibility.
The Gymnast (October 1982)
A 16-year-old girl enrolls in a tough gymnastics school in hopes of becoming a world-class gymnast.
Stoned: Afterschool Special TV show with Scott Baio (November 1980)
Too “stoned” to go to school, formerly “straight” Jock Melon (Scott Baio), left and his dealer-friend Teddy (Jeffrey Frichner) watch cartoons through glazed eyes instead. The scene is from “Stoned,” a premier presentation on the ABC Afterschool Specials story to be aired Wednesday.
A Matter Of Time (February 1981)
A teenage girl learns her mother has terminal cancer.
Run, Don’t Walk (March 1981)
An 18-year-old is permanently paralyzed in an accident but refuses to admit it to herself.
My Mother Was Never A Kid (March 1981)
A bump on the head sends a rebellious 13-year-old back in time, where she meets the rowdy kid who will grow up to be her mother.
She Drinks a Little (September 1981)
Cindy thought she was helping her mother by hiding the “secret” from her friends. But on one of the biggest nights of Cindy’s life, the awful truth emerged. For everyone to see.
Starstruck (October 1981)
A young girl is torn between the desire to make it in the music world, and her mother’s wish for her to pursue a more practical career.
Tough Girl (October 1981)
A streetwise teenager is sent to live in the suburbs with her father’s new family.
The Color Of Friendship (November 1981)
The close relationship between two 13-year-old boys, one black and one white, faces a crucial test when racial unrest upsets their small community.
The Unforgivable Secret (February 1982)
A woman destroys her daughter’s confidence in her by lying to her about the girl’s father.
Daddy, I’m Their Mama Now (March 1982)
A young woman takes charge of her two younger brothers after the death of their mother.
Sometimes I Don’t Love My Mother (April 1982)
A teenage girl must learn to cope with her mother’s total dependence on her following the death of her father.
Amy And The Angel (September 1982)
A teen angel tries to convince a 15-year-old girl (played by Helen Slater) to reconsider her decision to end her life.
Between Two Loves, aka Two Loves for Jenny (October 1982)
Full episode video:
A Very Delicate Matter (November 1982)
Teenage girl is shocked when a former boyfriend tells her he has gonorrhea. Not only does she get tested, she must tell her current boyfriend to get tested as well.
Please Don’t Hit Me, Mom (January 1983)
A teenager stumbles upon a case of child abuse. She discovers a child she baby-sits is regularly beaten by the mother.
The Woman Who Willed A Miracle (February 1983)
A determined nurse (Cloris Leachman) and her husband (M. Emmet Walsh) adopt a blind, severely [disabled] child who may not have long to live.
Have You Ever Been Ashamed Of Your Parents? (March 1983)
A young girl learns about family pride and envy when her mother is forced to take a summer job cooking for a wealthy family.
But It’s Not My Fault (March 1983)
A teenager’s attempts to impress a group of older boys land him in a juvenile detention center.
The Wave (March 1983)
A high school history teacher’s experiment in discipline demonstrates the susceptibility of the German youth to Hitler’s mind control. Stars Bruce Davison.
It’s No Crush, I’m In Love (September 1983)
The strong resemblance of a new schoolteacher (Mark LaMura) to a soap opera star leads one of his young students (Cynthia Nixon) to fall for him.
The Hand-Me-Down Kid (October 1983)
A young girl (Tracey Gold) accidentally loses her older sister’s bicycle, then concocts a wild story to cover up the incident.
The Celebrity And The Arcade Kid (November 1983)
A young movie star (Darnell Williams) switches places with his look-alike, a video game wizard, for several hours.
Andrea’s Story: A Hitchhiking Tragedy (December 1983)
A 15-year-old girl learns the dangers of hitchhiking firsthand when she is attacked by a “safe-looking” driver. Features a young Kirk Cameron, before his Growing Pains fame.
The Great Love Experiment (February 1984)
“The popular kids” lure a timid girl into a made-up experiment that returns unexpected results.
Backwards: The Riddle Of Dyslexia (March 1984)
River Phoenix portrays a teenage boy afflicted with dyslexia, the inability to read or write, tries to cover up his disability by becoming the class clown.
The Hero Who Couldn’t Read (April 1984)
A teacher discovers that the star basketball player is illiterate, and makes it his mission to teach him how to read. (Starred Clarence Williams III of Mod Squad.)
Summer Switch (September 1984)
Father and son magically switch personalities with comical results. (Shades of Freaky Friday!)
Episode promo spot:
Out of Step (October 1984)
A teenage girl wants to be a successful dancer and has a chance to try out for a dance troupe. But fear of failure may keep her from auditioning.
Here’s just a short clip, representing the peak theatrical 80s aesthetic:
The Almost Royal Family (October 1984)
The Henderson family has moved from New York City to what they believe will be a wonderful new life, but what they find is a run-down old house on an uninhabited, mosquito-plagued island that’s unclaimed by any nation — thus, leaving them to set up their own kingdom — in “The Almost Royal Family,” airing as an “ABC Afterschool Specials” presentation.
Starring as the Henderson family are Garrett M. Brown (front), Frederick Koehler, Mary Elaine Monti, Sarah Jessica Parker (L to R, center) and John Femia (rear).
Mom’s on Strike (November 1984)
An ABC Afterschool Special, about an overworked housewife, who goes on strike to persuade her family to share household chores. Featuring a young Yeardley Smith before she starred as Lisa Simpson in the “The Simpsons.”
I Want to Go Home (February 1985)
Two children in their divorced father’s custody are kidnapped by their mother.
First the Egg (March 1985)
A group of high school students take part in a parenting class where their first assignment is to “parent” an egg. Starred Justine Bateman and Jimmy McNichol.
One Too Many (May 1985)
Four high school friends find their lives changed forever when one of the friends drives drunk with devastating results. This Afterschool Special episode starred a young Michelle Pfeiffer and Val Kilmer.
No Greater Gift (September 1985)
Despite his father’s misgivings, a young boy (Ajay Naidu) decides to donate an organ to his hospital roommate.
Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale (October 1985)
In an updated version of ‘Cinderella,’ a New York bag lady (Pearl Bailey) comes to the aid of a girl (Kyra Sedgwick) who’s experiencing difficulties with her stepmother and stepsisters. (Also starred Jennifer Grey.)
Episode promo ad:
Don’t Touch (November 1985)
Blair Brown, Niki Scalara, and Kelly Wolf star in the story of a babysitter who recognizes the tell-tale signs of child molestation.
High School Narc (December 1985)
Michael E. Knight of “All My Children” stars as a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate a high-school drug ring. (Also starred Viggo Mortensen.)
Can a Guy Say No? (February 1986)
A sexually frustrated teenage boy (Steve Antin) is confused by a new set of emotions when he initiates a relationship with a girl (Heather Langencamp) whose reputation precedes her.
Are You My Mother? (March 1986)
A teenage girl is stunned to discover that her mother is not deceased, but mentally ill living in an institution.
Getting Even: A Wimp’s Revenge (March 1986)
Tired of being bullied at school, a boy start drawing a master scientist. He begins to imagine what it would be like, as the scientist, standing-up to the bullies at school.
A Desperate Exit (September 1986)
A teenager is stunned when his best friend commits suicide, and is left with one unanswered question: Why? Starred Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show).
Wanted: The Perfect Guy (October 1986)
Sensing his mom is lonely and looking for companionship, a 13-year-old places a personal ad for “The Perfect Guy.” Stars Madeline Kahn (who won a daytime Emmy for this role) and a young Ben Affleck.
Teen Father (October 1986)
A college bound 18-year-old has his life turned upside down when his 16-year-old girlfriend announces that she is pregnant.
The Gift of Amazing Grace (November 1986)
A teenage girl is frustrated about her lack of singing ability in her gospel singing family. She writes a song about her problem, and soon finds where her musical talent lies.
Supermom’s Daughter (February 1987)
A career-driven mother and her daughter don’t see eye to eye when it comes to the daughter’s future plans. This episode starred Marisa Tomei.
Episode promo spot:
Divorced Kids’ Blues (March 1987)
A 15-year-old struggles through the politics of divorce as his parents split up.
Episode promo spot:
Class Act: A Teacher’s Story (March 1987)
A rich businessman decides to return to teaching after working in the stock market. He inherits a class of under-achievers and sets out to make them winners.
Episode promo spot:
Read Between the Lines (June 1987)
When an illiterate toy maker has the right to his invention stolen, his grandson and the Harlem Globetrotters team up to get them back.
Just a Regular Kid: An AIDS Story (September 1987)
He likes pizza, basketball, and girls. He’s a typical 16-year-old boy. Except for one thing. He has AIDS.
The Kid Who Wouldn’t Quit: The Brad Silverman Story (September 1987)
A true story about a teen with Down’s Syndrome who begins attending college classes.
The Day My Kid Went Punk (October 1987)
What do you do when your bright, loveable, talented kid turns into a punker overnight? The Nelsons are about to find out.
Seasonal Differences (December 1987)
The separation of church and state is examined when a Christmas Nativity scene, being displayed at a high school, sparks debate and protest from the student body.
Terrible Things My Mother Told Me (January 1988)
A 16-year-old girl doesn’t realize that her mother emotionally and verbally abusive to her.
Daddy Can’t Read (March 1988)
Date Rape (September 1988)
A teenage girl is raped after accepting a date from the most popular boy in school.
A Family Again (October 1988)
A family comes to grips with their own grief after the eldest daughter is killed.
Tattle: When to Tell on a Friend (October 1988)
The tale of four friends who are members of a high school swimming team and the threat to those bonds when two of them experiment with cocaine.
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Taking a Stand (January 1989)
A neighborhood starts examining their feelings of racism when one of the neighbors is caught vandalizing the home of a black family, and people start taking sides.
Just Tipsy, Honey (March 1989)
Patty’s suffering from a drinking problem.
The Cheats (March 1989)
Three girls steal the answers to their final exam. When the headmistress finds out, she gives those responsible one day to confess. After that anyone participating in the cover-up will be expelled.
Torn Between Two Fathers (April 1989)
The daughter of a divorced couple wages her own custody battle. After her natural mother dies in an accident, a teenager sues her natural father for the right to live with her disabled step-dad.
My Dad Can’t Be Crazy… Can He? (September 1989)
A teenage boy is unable to deal with his schizophrenic father.
Private Affairs (October 1989)
A departure from most ABC Afterschool Specials, this one focuses on Madeline Green, a teenage girl who discovers her father’s affair with a friend of her mother, and struggles to keep it from tearing her family apart.
A Town’s Revenge (November 1989)
A teenager who tries to convince his town to farm without using pesticides finds many of the residents resistant to change.
The ultimate guide to ABC Afterschool Special episodes from the 1990s
All That Glitters (January 1990)
A group of high school students learn about ethics and the seduction of power when they start a cookie company for a class project. Starring Marc Price (Skippy from “Family Ties”).
Over the Limit (February 1990)
A high school student debates whether to come forward about the facts of a tragic drunk driving accident.
The Perfect Date (April 1990)
A 16-year-old student is convinced his upcoming date with the school prom queen will be the perfect date. However, it turns out to be anything but the perfect date.
A Question About Sex (September 1990)
A teenage girl who advocates sex education at her school finds herself butting heads with her mother who is seeking a spot on the school board. Starring Tracey Gold (“Growing Pains“) and Cindy Pickett.
Testing Dirty (October 1990)
Having never used drugs in his life, a teenage boy is shocked to test positive for drugs.
Full episode video:
Stood Up! (December 1990)
After getting stood up for the school prom, a high school girl sues her date.
The Less Than Perfect Daughter (January 1991)
Mother and daughter are at odds when the daughter wants to be independent and less reliant on her mom.
It’s Only Rock & Roll (March 1991)
A teenage girl finds her song lyrics being scrutinized when some people find them too suggestive.
In The Shadow of Love: A Teen Aids Story (September 1991)
Jennifer Dundas (right) and Lisa Vidal (center) portray high school TV journalists who investigate the AIDS outbreak and are startled to learn that they, too, are vulnerable, in the “ABC Afterschool Specials” drama, “In The Shadow of Love: A Teen Aids Story,” presented in collaboration with the Public Broadcasting Service. The drama about the spread of AIDS among teenagers airs on PBS and on the ABC Television Network. Photo credit: Molly Lynch.
Summer Stories: The Mall — Part 1 (March 1992)
Summer Stories: The Mall is a three-part series about high school graduates contemplating their future while working at the mall. In “First Impressions,” a girl is torn about whether to meet her birth mother.
Summer Stories: The Mall — Part 2 (April 1992)
In “Second Chances,” a girl struggles with her feelings as her mother prepares to remarry, years after the death of her father.
Summer Stories: The Mall — Part 3 (April 1992)
In “Temptations,” the gang prepares to go their separate ways as the summer comes to a close. Meanwhile a recovering teenage alcoholic struggles to stay sober when an old drinking buddy shows up.
Surviving a Breakup (October 1992)
Oprah Winfrey moderates a panel of teens, celebrities, and experts to discuss surviving the end of a relationship.
Shades of a Single Protein (January 1993)
Oprah Winfrey moderates a panel of teens discussing race relations in America.
Episode promo spot:
Learning Not to Hurt (March 1993)
Roz Abrams hosts a special report on youth violence and later moderates a panel discussion.
Girlfriend (April 1993)
Two teenage girls, one black and one white, become friends while working on a mural to honor a black classmate killed by random gunfire.
Love Hurts (September 1993)
A 16-year-old girl turns to a support group when her boyfriend begins to hit her.
Montana Crossroads (December 1993)
A woman struggles with her daughter wanting to leave the nest, while at the same time trying to convince her father to enter a retirement home.
Episode promo spot:
I Hate the Way I Look (March 1994)
Oprah Winfrey moderates a panel of teens, celebrities and experts to discuss the obsession teens have with their appearance.
Jacqui’s Dilemma (June 1994)
A pregnant 16-year-old girl examines her choices over what to do with her unborn baby amidst interviews with teens, parents, educators, counselors, social workers and doctors that amplify the issues.
Boys Will Be Boys (September 1994)
A victim of sexual harassment by her male classmates, a teenage girl decides to sue the school for doing nothing to stop the harassment.
Magical Makeover (December 1994)
A teenage girl desperately wants to be popular. One day an angel grants her that wish, by giving her a new image every day. But soon she wishes she could just be herself.
Just Chill (December 1994)
After the senseless death of his twin brother, a teen drug pusher decides to seek revenge against all who have wronged him in the neighborhood.
Bonnie Raitt Has Something to Talk About (March 1995)
Whoopi Goldberg interviews musician/singer Bonnie Raitt about her life, career, and future plans.
Notes for My Daughter (April 1995)
A teenage girl struggles with her mother’s illness from breast cancer.
Long Road Home (May 1995)
A teen finds himself having to take a long road trip with his new stepmother, whom he dislikes. His resent begins to melt away as the two get to know one another.
Fast Forward (September 1995)
A teen travels to the future to see his future self, and is stunned to see how alcohol has shaped his life.
Positive: A Journey Into AIDS (December 1995)
A documentary following two actors from General Hospital as they research and talk to people living with HIV and AIDS.
Full episode — part 1:
Full episode — part 2:
Full episode — part 3 (no sound):
Educating Mom (March 1996)
A soccer mom decides to get her high school diploma and ends up sharing classes with her teenage son.
Daddy’s Girl (April 1996)
Her father abandoned sixteen year old Alicia ten years ago. Now a family wedding presents a chance for her to forge a relationship with him. But it means crossing her mother, who still hasn’t forgiven him for walking out on them.
Through Thick & Thin (June 1996)
Twin sisters, one slim and one overweight, magically switch personalities giving each a new appreciation of each other.
Too Soon for Jeff (September 1996)
A high school senior finds his future plans turned upside down when his girlfriend tells him she is pregnant. Starred Jessica Alba and Freddie Prinze Jr.
Me and My Hormones (October 1996)
Three generations of women come together under the same roof, each experiencing her own life changes and all needing each other’s support, in “Me and My Hormones,” an “ABC AFTERSCHOOL SPECIAL” presentation airing on the ABC Television Network. Starring are (clockwise from left): Robin Strasser, Stuart Damon, Marion Ross and Courtney Peldon. Photo credit: Brian Fitzgerald.
Teenage Confidential (December 1996)
A comedy about overprotective parents so concerned about their daughter’s safety, they hire a private eye to follow her every move.
Miracle at Trapper Creek (January 1997)
Underprivileged and troubled teens join the Trapper Creek Jobs Corp in Montana to learn a trade, work in the wilderness, and achieve a solid work ethic.
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